SCOTT & The South-Pole

Clements Markham

A Portrait Of Young Markham

On June 25th, 1846, Markham passed the examination for midshipman, being placed third in a group of ten. Early in his career, Markham caught the eye of an admiral who was going to set out to take command in the Pacific. This admiral had his wife and three daughters with him; Markham would be wonderful company and was brought aboard. In his cruise, which lasted four years, Markham took-in territories that included Rio de Janeiro, the Falkland Islands, and a stormy passage in the Southern Ocean on route to Valparaiso, Chile, the headquarters of the British Pacific station at the time. On his return he was put aboard one of the ships that the Royal Navy sent out to see what happened to the lost Arctic expedition of Sir John Franklin. As a result of Markham's far-flung travels, he became an expert in geography; and, in that capacity, he served in India and Peru. In 1868, he was with the Abyssinian Punitive Expedition. The British soldiers and military equipment, not only needed to be transported over the seas, but also, over rough terrain lacking any road system, in Ethiopia.

After all these adventures, Markham was back in England. He became a man of some repute, such that he was appointed as the secretary of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS). In time he advanced from Secretary to its president for a period of years. It was during these years that he met Robert Falcon Scott. Markham -- better understood in light of his naval career as a geographer -- became the driving force behind both The Discovery Expedition (19011904) and The Terra Nova Expedition (19101912). To get these two Antarctic Expeditions approved, funded, equipped, and staffed -- was no easy task. It became sort of a battle between the navy men and scientists; which group was to be in charge. Markham won out; it was to be navy; and under Captain Scott's command.

A Portrait Of Markham

When Scott met Markham in 1899, there was a considerable age difference; Markham, 69; Scott, 31. For what it is worth, Markham was a homosexual. Whatever his sexual proclivities, Markham was an outstanding individual. We quote wikipedia's entry:

"All his life Markham was a constant traveller and a prolific writer, his works including histories, travel accounts and biographies. He authored many papers and reports for the RGS, and did much editing and translation work for the Hakluyt Society, of which he also became president. He received public and academic honours, and was recognised as a major influence on the discipline of geography, although it was acknowledged that much of his work was based on enthusiasm rather than scholarship. Among the geographical features bearing his name is Antarctica's Mount Markham, named after him by Scott in 1902.

GO TO A List of Persons Involved with Scott at the South-Pole

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Peter Landry